What is Negative SEO?
Negative SEO involves the malicious use of black hat techniques to wreck a website’s organic search rankings. If your site has been hit by negative SEO, you’ll probably notice that your search ranking has taken a dive and your traffic has been steadily dropping.
Negative SEO attacks can manifest in many different forms:
- Website hacking
- Posting large amounts of spammy links to your website. This involves using automated tools such as X-rummer or Scrapbox to spam online forums and scraped blogs.
- Pointing toxic links to your site using exact match keywords like buy viagra online, poker online, and many others.
Recovering Your Site From Negative SEO
If your site has been under attack from negative SEO, then you really only have one option, which is to use the Google Disavow tool. This involves gathering all of the bad links that have been built to your site, and sending them to Google using the Disavow tool through your Google Search Console.
Using the disavow tool is is not without its risks if you’ve been building links using questionable link building practices in the past, and those links are what got you ranking in the first place.
The thing is, an engineer from the Google spam team will manually process your disavowed links, and this is where a problem may arise. The disavow process involves the engineer fully analyzing site. They are not only going to look at the links you wish to disavow. Rather, they will look at your entire backlink profile. If you’ve been doing some questionable black hat SEO, this will become apparent, and you could be issued with a fresh manual penalty.
If that happens, you’ll have to go through the process of disavowing further links and sending in a reconsideration request so that you can get out of the manual penalty. The problem is that when the manual penalty is removed, the links that got you ranking in the first place will no longer be there.
So, you might get yourself out of manual penalty, but your rankings will tank. You’ll also be under Google’s radar, so you’ll have to get yourself ranking again by using safe, white hat SEO practices. This is why it is essential to only use safe, white-hat SEO techniques to build links to your site from the start.
How to Identify Negative SEO
If your search ranking and web traffic has recently taken a noticeable dive and you think you’ve been hit by negative SEO, the first thing to do is to check to see if your site is in penalty.
If you’re under penalty and are sure that you have not been carrying out any questionable SEO practices that justifies a penalty, then your site may have come under attack from negative SEO. The quickest way to verify that is by using the majestic tool.
Navigate to www.majestic.com. Enter your URL and follow the below process:
1. Check your link building history.
Majestic shows you the number of backlinks built in the last 5 years as well as in the last 90 days. In the screenshot below, you can see that in the last five years, 84,029 links were built to the site. However, in the last 90 days, the site has received 108,685 backlinks. That is a sure sign that the site in question has been under attack from negative SEO.
2. Anchor Text Distribution.
The Majestic tool also allows you to check the anchor text distribution of your website. It breaks down the percentage of links that come in for a particular phrase.
What to look out for is the percentage of exact match anchor text. This should be a very low number – preferably less than 5%. A high number of exact match anchors means the site has been penalized by the Penguin algorithm.